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Andy Rubin debuts the Essential Phone at Code Conference 2017. Photo: Asa Mathat for Vox Media via Getty Images

Not that long ago, what people wanted from a tech conference was to hear from executives about the next shiny object coming down the pipeline.

What's new: Nowadays, tech CEOs aren't talking about what's fresh from their corporate ovens — instead, they're the ones being grilled.

What's happening: At this week's Code Conference, not one product debuted on stage, and there was precious little discussion of what companies had in the works.

  • Facebook did say, without giving details, that it would have new hardware later this year for its Portal in-home video station.
  • Twitter spoke in the broadest of terms about some new features coming to the service, like a kind of message more public than a DM but more private than a tweet.

The big question: Mostly, speakers from the Big Tech companies were pressed on what they were doing to fight hate and misinformation.

  • Critic Scott Galloway called for the breakup of Facebook and representatives from immigration rights group RAICES slammed large tech firms for helping enable family separations and other misdeeds at the border.

Contrast that with years past, where the event (and its predecessor, the D: All Things Digital conference) regularly served as a product launch pad, such as...

  • The world got its first look at Bing and Windows 8 here, along with some classic flops like the Palm Folio.
  • Siri debuted here when it was still a startup, and Steve Jobs once used the show to launch Apple's Airport Express wireless networking device.
  • More recently, this is where Andy Rubin showed off the Essential Phone.

To be sure: Code has shifted focus some over the years, and there are still plenty of tech enthusiasts and lots of venues devoted exclusively to product launches.

  • This week's E3, for example, was all about the next video games and consoles, while CES has all the product launches one could want (and then some). Plus, the big companies have largely followed Apple's lead and now host their own events to give major products their own stage.
  • The tech world also got excited over leaks about Google's upcoming Pixel 4. Google even upped the ante, tweeting its own real photo of the rear camera array from its official hardware account.

The bottom line: Some people want the latest gadget. Some people want answers to what's gone wrong in tech. And some of us want both.

Go deeper: Big Tech grilled on hate speech, accountability at Code Conference

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Federal judge halts Trump administration limit on TikTok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge on Friday issued an injunction preventing the Trump administration from imposing limits on the distribution of TikTok, Bloomberg reports. The injunction request came as part of a suit brought by creators who make a living on the video service.

Why it matters: The administration has been seeking to force a sale of, or block, the Chinese-owned service. It also moved to ban the service from operating in the U.S. as of Nov. 12, a move which was put on hold by Friday's injunction.